No announcement yet.

What do board/tail numbers mean?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    What do board/tail numbers mean?

    On my journey of learning more about military aviation I came across Board/Tail (Which in DCS are also an option in the rearm/refuel pannel) and Bureau numbers. Specifically for the F/A 18.

    I get Bureau numbers are like the serial number for the aircraft for the Navy administration and stick with the plane trough their career in the navy. But what does the Board/Tail number mean exactly? I read somewhere it has to do with the field/carrier the aircraft is based on, is that correct? And if so, what does 401 mean for example?


    You are correct regarding the bureau number; it's a manufacturer/purchasing/logistic reference, and these whilst handy for parts ordering are a bit unwieldy for day to day use by a squadron. It's far simpler to paint a large visible 2- or 3-digit number code for quick ID of an a/c and easier to verbalise.


    "Fisher, you're to take 208 out for a post maintenance test hop"

    "Hey chief, the XO in 04 is reporting a leak, can you go check it out?"

    "Get 211 out of the landing area stat!"

    "102 Tomcat Ball"

    Try replacing any of those numbers with the bureau and you'll see what I mean.

    In your specific example, which is US Navy:

    401 is specifically

    4 = Squadron on the carrier; in earlier times the fighter squadrons would own the 100 and 200 number range, the ground attack squadrons the 300 and 400 ranges.

    01 = an individual aircraft within the squadron. Ranges usually from 00-12 dependant on squadron strength.


      Thanks for the explaination!